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Cueto eyes another strong effort vs. Pirates

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cincinnati bullpen will get plenty of rest during the All-Star break, but the upcoming hiatus may begin a day early for some of those arms with Johnny Cueto set to face Pittsburgh.

Cueto eyes another excellent outing against the division rival on Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game set between the Reds and visiting Pirates.

In 24 career meetings with the Pirates, the right-handed Cueto is 15-4 with a 2.18 earned run average. He has won twice in three meetings with them this year, posting a pair of complete games -- one a shutout -- and a 1.13 earned run average.

In fact, four of Cueto's nine career complete games have come versus Pittsburgh in addition to half of his four shutouts.

The 28-year-old has won four of his past five decisions overall and last started on Tuesday versus the Chicago Cubs, claiming a 4-2 win. Cueto gave up a pair of runs -- both on solo homers -- in 6 1/3 innings of work, moving to 9-6 with a 2.03 ERA on the year.

As good as Cueto has been in this matchup, the Pirates' Francisco Liriano may have preferred a different opponent in his return from a strained left oblique.

In six career starts against the Reds, Liriano is 0-4 with a 3.99 ERA.

The 30-year-old lefty will make his first start since June 10 because of injury and is 1-6 with a 4.60 ERA on the year. He hurled six shutout innings in Triple-A on Monday to finish off his rehab.

Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco played a key role in Pittsburgh drawing even in this series on Saturday night as the Pirates rallied for a 6-5 victory in 11 innings.

McCutchen hit a game-tying homer to lead off the ninth inning, then hit the go-ahead solo shot in the 11th frame. In between, Polanco threw out a runner at home plate to help the Pirates escape a jam in the 10th inning.

"Yeah. ... You have to think about the throw from Polanco," McCutchen said on Pittsburgh's official website. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been in that position. So him making that huge throw ... a game-changer. Kept us in the game."

The Pirates bounced back from a 6-5 loss in the series opener on Friday to win for only the second time in their last six games.

All five Cincinnati runs came in the sixth inning on homers by Todd Frazier and Chris Heisey.

Reds starter Mike Leake was in line for his fifth win in his last six starts before McCutchen's blast in the ninth. Leake went six innings, giving up four runs on nine hits and three walks.

"It was one of those games he just wasn't real sharp," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Leake. "That was a game that could have gotten out of hand; that could have easily been a six- or seven- or eight-run ballgame when he left."

The Reds had won six of seven and sit 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central. The Pirates are 2 1/2 games off the pace.

Cincinnati has won eight of 12 versus the Pirates this season.

07/13 08:37:24 ET